Urinary incontinence (UI) involves losing control of one bladder and unintentionally releasing urine Over 3.3 million of Canadian men and women of all ages suffer from UI.
Some of its harms are most noticeable in affecting one’s social life and psychological well-being.
Living with uncertainty regarding when you might accidentally urinate can be anxiety-inducing, and limit your choice of activities.
But thankfully, a variety of therapies is available for those diagnosed with UI.
As a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga , I can help diagnose you with UI and recommend various effective natural treatments.
In today’s post, I’ll discuss what diagnosis involves, and what therapies are available.
Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence
– Medical History
o Your health care professional will ask you about the following:
past pelvic operations
history of childbirth
urination and urine leakage patterns
o you may find it beneficial to keep a diary of bladder activity for a few days before your appointment. Record information such as:
activity preceding leak, such as lifting or coughing
frequency of accidental leakage
frequency of urination, amount of urine released
presence or absence of strong need to urinate before leak
quantity and types of drinks consumed
– Physical Exam
o Pelvic exam: a visual and physical exam of the pelvic organs.
Cough Stress Test: the patient will be asked to sit upright with legs spread, and cough, while her bladder is full. Urine leakage during this test will indicate stress incontinence
Another test will involve the doctor assessing the patient’s pelvic muscle strength by asking her to squeeze her pelvic floor muscles.
Additionally, the doctor will slide a lubricated, gloved finger into patient’s vagina to examine it for physical problems such as a prolapse.
o Digital rectal exam:
The doctor will examine the rectum using a gloved, lubricated finger, checking for masses or stool that might be implicated in UI.
o These examinations might suffice for diagnosis, or the doctor might send you for further testing.
– Diagnostic Tests
o Urinalysis: a urine sample will be collected and tested for proteins or blood; this will help expose diabetes or kidney problems.
o Urine culture: when urianalysis indicates the presence of urinary tract infection, a urine sample will be tested to identify bacteria. This test will typically take between 1-3 days.
o Urodynamic testing: different procedures may be used in this type of testing, some of them involving the insertion of a catheter. Urodynamic testing will typically examine how well the bladder, sphincters and urethra hold and release urine.
Naturopathic Treatments For Urinary Incontinence
Once UI is diagnosed, there are several courses of treatment available to you.
Behavioral and lifestyle changes, Bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, urgency suppression, and smoking cessation are an important part of treating UI.
Different types of incontinence have various interventions specific to them.
– Stress Incontinence
o Stress Incontinence is caused by poor closure of the bladder, and is typically experienced while running or coughing
o Here are some of the therapies available:
o Behavioral and lifestyle changes:
Limit liquids before bedtime
Reduce intake of bladder irritants like caffeinated or carbonated beverages
Lose weight; some studies show obesity may increase chance of UI, and worsen symptoms, especially in women
o Pelvic floor muscle exercises: these exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to help it hold urine more effectively. The exercises involve of tightening and relaxing the muscles regulating urine release.
o Bladder training: this involves training yourself to use the bathroom at regular intervals. Extending breaks between bathroom trips can stretch the bladder and help it store more urine.
o Smoking cessation: smoking increases coughing, which in turn increases the chances of developing stress incontinence. It can worsen bladder irritation as well in some cases.
o If these naturalistic interventions don’t help, other medical interventions are available, such as urethral inserts or pessaries, injections of bulking agents (like collagen), and surgery.
– Urgency Incontinence
o This is caused by an overactive bladder, and is experienced as a sudden intense need to urinate, followed by urine leakage. Behavioral and lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, bladder training and urgency suppression are effective for urgency incontinence as well.
o Other therapies include:
o Urgency suppression: this involves training the bladder to maintain control and suppress the urge to urinate. Distraction, slow and relaxed breathing, and pelvic floor exercises can help.
o In cases when natural interventions fail, medications such as Antimuscarinics, Tricyclic antidepressants and Beta-3 agonists can be used. Other options are Botox injections and electrical nerve stimulation.
– Overflow Incontinence
o This may be caused by blockage of the urethra or poor bladder contraction. Surgery may be needed to remove the blockage, or in the absence of a blockage, a catheter can help empty the bladder.
– Functional Incontinence
o People with functional incontinence are typically aware that they need to urinate, but cannot reach the bathroom, often due to other health problems. This type of UI may be helped by wearing protective undergarments.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you experiencing involuntary urination?
Book a FREE urinary incontinence consultation with me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, at the Mississauga-based Mindful Healing Clinic.
I can help diagnose your UI and figure out a treatment plan that will help you improve and manage your symptoms.
If you want to find out more about urinary incontinence, how it works, and its causes and risk factors, check out our previous article on UI.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D